Published on July 4, 2016
Fast food, a type of mass-produced food that is prepared and served very quickly, was first popularized in the 1950s in the United States, and may be relatively less nutritionally valuable compared to other foods and dishes. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away. Fast food restaurants are traditionally distinguished by their ability to serve food via a drive-through. The term “fast food” was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam–Webster in 1951.
Outlets may be stands or kiosks, which may provide no shelter or seating, or fast food restaurants (also known as quick service restaurants). Franchise operations that are part of restaurant chains have standardized foodstuffs shipped to each restaurant from central locations.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fast foods are quick and cheap alternatives to home-cooked meals. They are also high in saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories.
Eating too much fast food has been linked to, among other things, obesity and high cholesterol
The traditional family dinner is increasingly being replaced by the consumption of takeaway, or eating “on the run”. As a result, the time invested on food preparation is getting lower and lower, with an average couple in the United States spending 47 minutes and 19 minutes per day, carrying out food preparation.